Last time, President Wilson had just shown the country his vision of the future.
And what a vision it was! Full of progressive strong-arming, brow-beating, and law-shaping done in the name of, and for the good of, the “people;” individuals be damned.
After Wilson, an interlude. But soon came FDR with his CCCP1, Blue Eagles, and, of course, bands of merry experts. These folks were determined to use their intellectual abilities to create new laws, rules, regulations, and agencies that would Solve Our Problems. Every idea was good, even those ideas that contradicted the other ideas.
What mattered was movement and the philosophy that government is always the answer. These attitudes have been with us ever since.
How about Kennedy? Truly it can be said that he was a great hero unto himself. Living in a Camelot just as indisputable as Malory’s, he was cut down in his prime by a loony communist’s bullet. But while alive, he never wasted a crisis.
Johnson retaliated against the “hate” that had struck down his boss by creating his Great Society, the start of government-sponsored race discrimination. Goldwater had the temerity to challenge Johnson, an obviously insane move. In fact, an “ad in the New York Times reported that 1,189 psychiatrists had diagnosed him as not ‘psychologically fit’ to be president.” An intellectual reporter at NPR intimated Goldwater was a Nazi sympathizer.2
We even meet a now-tenured terrorist who palled around with a different now-tenured terrorist who palled around with Obama. Hillary shows up for more than her due, but Goldberg wrote before The One was made known to the world. The ascension of Obama is covered in the new Afterword. But that’s the past. What brave new world awaits?
The old saying is true. Give a woman a fish—and she’ll demand tartar sauce. Plus she’ll sidle back the next day looking for steak. This goes double if she’s told she can only receive the fish if she isn’t working, or that the more kids she has, the more free fish she’ll receive.
Welfare is just the best known in the legion of examples of the Law of Unintended Consequences.
Giving without asking anything in return made worse the situation welfare was meant to fix. Nearly everybody now sees this. But compassion fogs the mind, and new forms of welfare sprout up like weeds. Food stamps, rent control, subsidies for nearly everything. Progressives say, “If we stop the largess, people will suffer immediately.”
This is true; weaning is painful. But it is also true that more will suffer by their increased dependence on government. Or, as all evidence has shown, fewer will suffer when self-reliance is the watchword. Of course, nobody is arguing—I am not—that helping hands should never be offered; just that they should not become ingrained and inter-generational.
Perhaps guilt over the ill effects of welfare is why liberals are such strong supporters of abortion? More abortions among welfare recipients means, after all, fewer welfare recipients.
The strongest argument against excessive, increasing, and, of course, well meaning, regulation has always been that it results in an arms race. Once the government constructs a regulatory wall, businesses will hire lobbyists to climb it. Only the strongest can scale it! And once they’re over, they’ll work with the government bureaucrats to brick the wall higher, sloshing on ample amounts of money-mortar to make it impregnable.
Not only that, but lawyers, draped in Old Glory, will man the balustrades and mercilessly litigate entrepreneurs who manage to make the top. Right in the gut!
This happens in a small way in your hotel room, in which is found a placard on which is pictured a beaver cavorting in crystal-blue water next to the words, “Don’t wash your towels, it saves the environment”. The hotel does this to save money while appearing to pay obeisance to our current secular religion. This is step one.
Step two. The hotel makes a donation to a busybody, who passes a Green Lodgings bill, saying, “People do not need clean towels. I judge them to be excessive. Plus, towels should be laundered only in approved ways: this 387-page document describes the regulation.” The hotel and laundry executives will join the politician on the podium, hands raised in victory.
Business has become more expensive for small competitors. The rich will have grown richer.
What’s to come? Salt and transfat bans, refuse limits, taxes on soda pop and pizza, limits on driving, rules on who can say what and when. Each new rule will nibble a piece of freedom so small, you’ll hardly miss it.
This is why Goldberg suggests the coming fascism will arrive with a smiley face. Experts will have done the worrying and made the choices for you. Since they are experts and they love you—how can you argue with a PhD with a huge heart?—there will be no point in making decisions for yourself. You will be looked after.
1 Civilian Conservation Corps Patrols; 2 p. 233.